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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Linux’ Category

Claire Wolfe

Weekend links

Sunday, February 9th, 2014
  • So you still don’t think Google Glass is creepy? Well how ’bout when New York City cops are testing it? (H/T MJR)
  • “The repentant informant.” This article on liberty’s former friend Stacy Litz was published last year. The reporter (whose name really, truly is Jason Nark) interviewed me but forgot to tell me when the story hit, which is why I’m late with the news. I’m not quoted, but he does reference the booklet the Commentariat collaborated on: Rats! So pat yourselves on the back. You’re famous. :-)
  • Cops do the usual no-knock dawn raid. On the usual word of a lying informant. Resident, believing he and his pregnant girlfriend are in danger, shoots and kills a deputy. Cops find pot. A grand jury refuses to indict. Even a blogger cop says it’s the right decision. And you thought there were no such things as miracles.
  • Unfortunately, the usual *&^%$ still goes on. But you know … credit card fraud was involved. And somebody in the house had a concealed carry permit. So of course any amount of coppish violence is totally, absolutely justified. If you don’t think so you must be a domestic terrorist or something.
  • Uh oh. Tricksy, buggy Adobe Flash now carries malware that can infect even Linux machines and Macs. Guess the good old days are truly over.
  • Here’s more on from MWD. For nerdstuff, this is pretty lucid. And he very kindly tells me he’s snagged me a clairewolfe.bit domain name just in case.
  • And never forget, no matter how weird the world gets, we can always enjoy the puppies. So here, via MLS, are big dogs who don’t realize they are.


Claire Wolfe

Midweek links

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
Claire Wolfe

Friday freedom question: Would you quit the Internet?

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Ever since Pamela Jones shut down Groklaw and announced she was not only abandoning the site but quitting the Internet entirely in light of the Edward Snowden revelations, I’ve been thinking about this.

At the time, though I found her reasons poignant and pertinent, I thought she was overreacting. Now, I don’t know.

Personally, I’m not on the verge of quitting. A big part of my life is here. And all of my career (such as it is) is here. That’s been true since 1986 when a client bought me my first 300-baud modem and set it up so I could electronically submit stories to him. It was certainly true in 1993 when I met my Significant Sweetie (now ex, but still friend) on a FIDOnet gun-rights bulletin board. It’s definitely true now when I’d likely starve to death and blow away without the ‘Net.

Still, I think most of us (and most notably a lot of tech types hereabouts) feel the temptation.

We’ve always been independent sorts around here. We avoid being messed with by power trippers. If we can’t avoid, we “mess back.” But right now, there’s nothing we can do to counter the electronic offenses being committed against us and against freedom by the UberGoverment whose all-probing eye peers out from Mordor on the Potomac.

Oh, sure, we can play the old “keyword” game with our emails. (There’s even a new Firefox/Chrome browser add-on to let us do the same thing with URLs and HTTP headers now.) That’s fun. And it’s always true that irritating and misdirecting the bastards is worthwile, even (or perhaps especially) as tyranny grows. We can also use GPG, dump Windows for Linux, use TOR, etc. etc. etc. And eventually heroic tech wizards may save us — and the Internet — from NSAuron.

But now …? Now …? Now we seem to be faced with using dodges that may or may not help or simply shrugging and going on because, realistically, there’s not much else to do. So …

Would you quit the Internet? If so, what would you do instead? If not, how do you adapt to knowing that everything you do online (or on the phone) is probably recorded and analyzed, even if it then disappears into the maw of a datacenter’s godzillabyte storage capacity, never to be seen again?


Now, that said, I’m “quitting the Internet” for the next three days. I may pop in to post some cute dog pictures tomorrow, and I’ll check in to moderate comments at least once a day. Otherwise, I’m away for a bit from the Bad News Net.

Claire Wolfe

Wednesday links

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

… which all have to do with science, science fiction, medicine, or technology today …

  • “Open up and say ‘neigh’” — how horses can help teach young doctors to have a better bedside manner. (Tip o’ hat to ML.)
  • I thought he’d died decades ago. No, but that was his compatriot Janos Prohaska. Farewell, Ray Harryhausen, FX pioneer.
  • I’ll bet the words “dog” and “cat” were among those our prehistoric ancestors bequeathed us.
  • … Those ancestors now under the sea?
  • So, is the movie of Ender’s Game going to be good? The trailer has possibilities. But I was never a fan of the book. Sorry, Orson Scott Card; you always put me to sleep. Doesn’t look like a sleepy film, though.
  • Anybody hereabouts use Jitsi? A friend’s working on a project with it and recommended it. But I don’t do any of the things it’s noted for (online chat, video or VOIP calls), so I dunno. He says it’s got super-good encryption.
Claire Wolfe

Preparedness backup reference library

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The KTD Project is an effort to put over 600 preparedness and survival texts onto bootable thumb drives or SD cards.

The idea is to be able to carry a vast store of resources anywhere and access it on even some pretty inadequate equipment. (Yes, paper would be even more accessible in primitive conditions — if we weren’t talking about such a huge volume.)

Mark (aka GreyLocke), who’s been pulling this together, has pretty comprehensive instructions at the link above.

I’ve queried him about access to the library for people who may not want to deal with the tech stuff. Will let you know if I hear more.


ADDED: Heard from Mark. Here’s the link to the main directory of project files.

He adds:

But just to have the files available on a drive, they either download the zip files from the CD3WD site, there are I believe 48 of them now each are around 300 to 360 MB each, they would then need to be unzipped and the install batch file run.

I find it a lot easier to just use the ISO files and the torrent. I can set bit torrent to download the files for me while I go about my day. After they are downloaded I personally used ISO Buster to just write the files to my hard drive then install them. They now reside in their own directories on my main drive and all 3 of my back up
drives,and as of now 4 of the KTD thumb drives.

Hm. Maybe somebody could make a little money (or at least do a preparedness public service project) by making up KTD sticks and selling them to the less technically ept?

Claire Wolfe

If I’m offline for a while …

Friday, January 13th, 2012

… don’t worry.

I’m just mucking around, changing operating systems again.

My old laptop (running Linux Mint 11) headed toward slow death a month or two ago. I eBayed myself a newer ThinkPad and upgraded (or so I thought) to Mint 12.

I’ve been loving Linux Mint since version 8 or so, and I guess I’m not alone in that since it’s risen from nowhere to become one of the top Linuxes, if not the top Linux, for real people. Love its media friendliness!

But 11 had problems. Not the Mint team’s fault, but there were some new Ubuntu features they got stuck with (hidden slider bars that you can’t see until you’ve moused over them — and moused over them in just exactly the right way — was a very, very, very bad idea). (Okay, they’re scroll bars, as everybody in the comment section is reminding me very diplomatically. I don’t care what they’re called, as long as they work properly.)

Alas, although Mint 12 (and I presume the version of Ubuntu it’s based on) killed off the dreadful catch-us-if-you-can sliders, in other ways it, too, is not ready for prime time.

Again, it seems to be not the Mint team’s fault. Just as Mint is tethered to Ubuntu, it’s also tethered to Gnome, a heretofore marvelous GUI (aka desktop management system; with Linux, unlike Windows, there are several options for the user interface; sometimes users get a choice, sometimes developers make the decision). This time the Gnome team made some rocky decisions. Like the folks who thought hiding the slider bars was an “improvement,” they decided to get too clever for their or their users’ own good. They removed basic functionality (like actually being able to place tasks on the now-misnamed task bar) in favor of a bunch of jumpy jazz.

There’s also the problem of the OS briefly, from time-to-time, consuming all system resources so the computer turns into a snoozing tortoise. There’s a workaround for that. But I don’t want a workaround. I want an operating system that’s smooth and un-annoying right out of the box.

I’ve been using Mint 12 for about a month and am thoroughly irked by its quirks. I expect Mint 13, later this year, will once again be a primo, terrific Linux. They’re addressing every one of the main problems, and the underlying OS is really a great thing. But right now … just not ready for real-user prime time.

Fortunately, at the same time I ordered the Mint 12 DVD, I also bought Mandriva 2011.

Mandriva was the first Linux to aim for real-people friendliness, and was my long-time Linux love. Then they dug themselves a big hole for a few years (are you seeing a pattern here?) and the media-friendly Mint galloped past them.

Anyhow, that’s the long way of saying that I’m about to back up the system and all my data and replace Linux Mint 12 with Mandriva 2011.

If all goes well, you won’t even notice I’m gone. If it doesn’t … don’t worry. The feds probably haven’t carried me off. Yet. More likely I just hit some wrong button. Or several.

And please don’t take any of this as saying that Linux has gone bad for us ordinary, non-geek users. Thing is with Linux, if one version goes wrong, you can try another — for a free download, a $2 CD, or a $6 DVD. You can even try it via a “live” CD or DVD to make sure you like it before committing to an installation.

When Windows goes wrong, OTOH (ME or Vista, anyone?), you’re just plain stuck.


Speaking of Windows, though: the new ThinkPad came with a new, hot version of M$ Windows, Windows 7 Ultimate, pre-installed. I must admit, it’s a pretty slick OS.

Since setting the new computer up to dual-boot Windows and Linux Mint, I haven’t used the former. But before installing Mint, I plinked around with Windows for a week or so and almost persuaded myself I could like it.

… Except, of course, for the conviction that I was being spied on (or potentially spied on) with every click of the mouse.

It’s really beautiful, though, and highly intuitive to use. I hate to say it but … “Nice job, Microsoft.”

Claire Wolfe

Sometimes things don’t go all that well (Linux Mint 11) (Harry Potter was better)

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I installed Linux Mint 11 last night. And this morning. And again this morning. I think I’m done now.

I’ve been using Linux Mint for several years and just loving it. It’s the most stable, most newbie-friendly, most media friendly Linux I know. Release 7 was terrific, 8 even better — and there I happily stayed until I began having browser woes. I knew there could be hassles jumping three versions forward, but Mint is so friendly I wasn’t worried.


First time I tried to install, it insisted on a username and password long before any had been set. It hinted that the username it wanted was “mint,” but no password in the ‘verse would appease it.

After researching and finding others having the same problem — but no one having a solution — I restarted and tried again. This time it didn’t ask for any impossible information. Guess it decided I was okay.

However this time, though a combo of my own brain fart and one of Mint’s new features (really, if you’re going to have slider bars that hide until somebody mouses over them, you really ought to tell the n00bs that’s what they have to do to access additional configuration options), I screwed up the install by not mounting all my quirky little partitions.

Third time, I got the partitions right, and thought everything was just hunky-dory and nifty-zorch — until I was configuring email and noticed that the @ key was typing ” . And yes, the ” key was typing @. And the pound (#) key was typing pound as in British money, despite my having definitely chosen the standard U.S. keyboard.

Fourth time I finally got good old Mint — complete with all (or nearly all) of my saved configurations. Yay!

The only thing that gave me real trouble is the Thunderbird mail reader. Mint 11 comes with T’bird 3.1.9 (which is far from being the latest release, but seems to be the latest stable Debian package). And T’bird 3.1.9 sucks is a seriously mixed bag. It’s not only filled with crazy quirks (like insisting that some, but not all, “sent” folders be subfolders of the inbox), but in the name of Windows-type automation, it makes it darned near impossible to custom-configure server settings.

Its autoconfigure feature is theoretically cool; but once it decides it wants you to use IMAP servers, not POP3s servers (which it always does, even when IMAP servers might not be available), then you’re going to use IMAP servers (and therefore you’re going to have separate inboxes for each and every one of your dozens of email addresses) even if you opt to configure manually. The only way to avoid it, apparently, is to erase any mail account you just created, click to create a new account, then hit STOP! as quick as you can before the autoconfigure process starts.

Please tell me they got rid of that in later versions of the app. I’ll be watching for new .deb packages.

Anyhow, the short version of the story is that I’m back in business, with only a few deadly email glitches still to work out.


Oh yeah. And Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II was really good. Not great (I don’t think any of the Potter films qualify as great), but one of the best and definitely a fitting, whiz-bang, beautiful, touching conclusion to a remarkable series. Voldemort … positively Shakespearian. Nigel … comes valiantly into his own. Minerva McGonagall … steals the show with her couple of tiny scenes. Snape … no wonder viewers made him the winner of the Harry Potter World Cup. And Ron, Hermoine, and Harry … what can you say? Even if not one of the movies rose to Lord of the Rings level, it’s a pretty amazing thing to have made eight so good, with the final being among the best.

Claire Wolfe

New foster dog coming in today, so …

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

I’m headed to another town to pick up a foster dog. I’m not ready for this. I told the local group I’d start fostering this summer, but things have been so unsettled I was considering ways to weasel out of my commitment. This is such a sad case, though. I couldn’t say no.

The incoming dog is a nine-year-old who’s bouncing back to the group because a placement made six years ago has gone sour. The dog, a female black Lab mix, was very much loved. Then the adopter had babies, and “Betsy” never took to them. Eighteen months ago, Betsy bit one of the kids (under circumstances that even the mom says were understandable). The adopter cared enough to work with a dog behaviorist. She tried her best, but Betsy just never adjusted to the children.

The local group is no-kill. But that’s a term of art that means “no adoptable animal will be euthanized.” Dogs with intractable behavior problems or health conditions sometimes have to be put down. With her age and history, Betsy is probably not adoptable. So we’ll see. Permanent foster care is the other most likely option.

The two girls in my pack, who’ve never particularly liked each other, have been pissy to the point of drawing blood lately. Adding another female is going to be … like the seventh grade all over again, I fear.

The one bright spot is Robbie who, after 10 years of being Mr. Dog-Aggressive Bully Boy, has suddenly decided to mellow out and accept that other canines have a right to exist — and that other dogs might even occasionally be likable.

Anyhow, that’s my story. And here’s some miscellany for you while I wander off:



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